Ricotta Fritters (Polpette di Ricotta)
Stuffed with prosciutto, mozzarella, pecorino, herbs and lemon zest, this fried cheese balls make a zesty cocktail party hors d'oeuvres.
Yield: makes 20 fritters
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1⁄2 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- (1) 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 6 basil leaves, torn in half
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup homemade or store-bought ricotta
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1⁄2 cup grated pecorino
- 1⁄3 cup grated mozzarella
- 1 tsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1⁄2 tsp. grated lemon zest
- 1⁄8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 egg yolks plus 2 eggs
- 4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
- 1⁄4 cup flour
- 1⁄2 cup dried bread crumbs
- Canola oil, for frying
- Heat olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add chile flakes; toast for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and basil, bring to a boil, lower heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce begins to thicken, 6–8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low; keep warm.
- Stir together ricotta, fresh bread crumbs, pecorino, mozzarella, parsley, lemon zest, nutmeg, egg yolks, and prosciutto in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper; cover and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
- Put flour, whole eggs, and dried bread crumbs into 3 separate shallow dishes; whisk eggs. Using your hands, form chilled ricotta mixture into 1 1⁄2" balls. Working with 1 ball at a time, dredge in flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs, shaking off any excess. Transfer to a parchment paper–lined sheet tray.
- Pour enough canola oil into a 4-quart saucepan that it reaches a depth of 2". Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 350°. Working in batches, fry the ricotta balls, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the balls to a paper towel–lined plate. Serve with the tomato sauce.